Hammond humiliated as think tank that advises the Treasury likens Brexit to 'the BLITZ'

Posted on Oct 18 2017 - 5:07am by admin

A report from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development claimed that a second national poll overturning last year’s Leave vote would have a “positive” and significant” impact on UK growth.

And Angel Gurria, OECD general-secretary, compared the experience of leaving the European block to the German bombing offensive against British cities during the Second World War.

Mr Gurria said on launching the OECD 2017 Economic Survey of the UK at the Treasury’s headquarters in Whitehall: “Stay the course – what was that thing that Churchill said? 

“Stay calm and carry on. This is the advice now as it was then, in the Blitz.” 

Hammond and a building damaged during the BlitzGETTY

The Paris-based think tank advising the Treasury said reversing Brexit would be beneficial on growth

It is a pity they don’t understand democracy. We have a full, extensive debate and the British people decided that they wanted to govern themselves again

John Redwood Tory MP

Even before the secretary-general’s outburst, Mr Hammond attempted to distance himself from the report.

Clearly discomfited by its findings, the Chancellor walked out of the joint news conference with Mr Gurria after making some brief introductory remarks.

Mr Hammond said: “This represents the OECD’s views, not Her Majesty’s Government’s views.”

Leaving without answering any questions from journalists, the Chancellor added: “With apologies, I must ask you excuse me.”

Hammond at a annual IMF meetingGETTY

Mr Hammond at the Annual Meetings Of The International Monetary Fund And World Bank

Treasury officials later issued a statement saying: “We are leaving the EU and there will not be a second referendum.”

The OECD survey forecast economic growth of just one per cent for Britain next year and suggested uncertainty among businesses about the outcome of the Brexit negotiations was to blame.

It warned that economic prospect would be further damaged by a “disorderly Brexit” caused by the possible collapse of negotiations between the Government and Brussels.

The report warned: “Business investment would seize up, and heightened price pressures would choke off private consumption. 

“The current account deficit could be harder to finance, although its size would likely be reduced.”

But the Paris-based think tank, which receives EU funding, also claimed the economic risk could be avoided by cancelling the result of last year’s referendum vote.

The report said: “In case Brexit gets reversed by political decision (change of majority, new referendum, etc), the positive impact on growth would be significant.

“Meantime, however, uncertainty could hamper domestic and foreign investment more than projected and hurt consumption even more were the exchange rate to depreciate further.”

Philip Hammond at the Tory Party ConferenceGETTY

‘This represents the OECD’s views, not Her Majesty’s Government’s views,’ replied Mr Hammond

Left by the Chancellor to unveil his report at the Treasury, Mr Gurria claimed Brexit was a process of “mind-boggling complexity”, adding: “You are undoing 40 years of integration.”

Yet he went on to admit: “There are no cataclysmic scenarios here.”

Drawing his parallel with the Blitz, Mr Gurria added: “It’s going to work – you’re going to make it work. The only question is – how long will it take?”

Critics last night pointed out that the OECD had made a string of botched economic forecasts in the past, including predicting a “massive economic shock” if Britain voted to leave the EU. 

Former Tory Cabinet minister John Redwood said: “The OECD should stick to trying to get their economic forecasts right – we don’t need their political interference.

“It is a pity they don’t understand democracy. We have a full, extensive debate and the British people decided that they wanted to govern themselves again.”

Senior Tory backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg said: “The OECD is a leading advocate of Brexit pessimism that has made a series of politically motivated and erroneous forecasts.

“We pay the OECD nearly £10 million a year in ordinary contributions for it to make political attacks on government policy. It is hardly value for money.”

Ukip MEP Gerard Batten said: “The international ‘Remain’ campaign is ramping up.

“Given the OECD’s history packed with erroneous predictions, it’s surprising that anyone currently takes it seriously.

“The OECD has allowed political ideology to triumph over economic facts for too long.

“Brexit is here to stay. It would be better if economic organisations accepted that fact and prepared for what is going to happen instead of trying to roll back the British peoples’ democratic vote .”

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